17 July 2018

BOOK: Vanessa HOLLOWAY, Black Rights in the Reconstruction Era (Lanham: Hamilton Books, 2018). ISBN 978-0-7618-7035-7, $70.00

Hamilton Books has published a book on black rights during the reconstruction era.


Most observers and historians rarely acknowledge the history of civil rights predating the twentieth-century. The book Black Rights in the Reconstruction Era pays significant scholarly attention to the intellectual ferment—legal and political—of the nineteenth-century by tracing the history of black Americans’ civil rights to the postbellum era. By revisiting its faulty foundational history, this book lends itself to show that, after emancipation, national and local struggles for racial equality had led to the encoding of racism in the political order in the American South and the proliferation of racism as an American institution.Vanessa Holloway draws upon a host of historical, legal, and philosophical studies as well as legislative histories to construct a coherent theory of the law’s relevance to the era, questioning how the nexus of race and politics should be interpreted during Reconstruction. Anchored in the Reconstruction Amendments, Supreme Court decisions and landmark statutes of the 1860s and 1870s—the Black Codes, the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Reconstruction Acts, the Enforcement Acts, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875—Black Rights in the Reconstruction Era offers a new perspective on the political history of law between the years 1865 and 1877. It is predominant in the ongoing debates on social justice and racial inequality.


Vanessa Holloway is a historian and philosopher of political theory, legal history, law and policy, and race and rights. She is also the author of Getting Away With Murder: The Twentieth-Century Struggle for Civil Rights in the U.S. Senate (2014) and In Search of Federal Enforcement: The Moral Authority of the Fifteenth Amendment and the Integrity of the Black Ballot (2015).


Introduction. Unwelcome Changes
Part I. Initial Legal Barriers to Racial Equality, 1865-1868
Chapter 1: Thirteenth Amendment
Chapter 2: Black Codes
Chapter 3: Freedmen’s Bureau
Chapter 4: Civil Rights Act of 1866
Chapter 5: Reconstruction Acts of 1867
Chapter 6: Fourteenth Amendment
Part II. Other Legislative and Constitutional Issues, 1870-1876
Chapter 7: Fifteenth Amendment
Chapter 8: Enforcement Acts of 1870-71
Chapter 9: Civil Rights Act of 1875
Appendix I. Reconstruction Era Congresses and U.S. Presidents
Appendix II. Federal Constitutional Amendments, Acts and Cases
Selected Bibliography

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